The Green Bay Packers put running back Cedric Benson on the new short-term injured-reserve list in hopes he could contribute for the stretch run.
Instead, a Lisfranc foot sprain sustained against Indianapolis on Oct. 7 required surgery on Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy announced on Thursday. Benson’s season, which started with so much promise, is over after four-plus games, 248 rushing yards and one touchdown.
The Packers will move forward with the recipe of the past three games, with a mix-and-match of Alex Green and James Starks that’s based on down-and-distance and other game situations.
“Cedric I felt was playing very well each and every week as we moved forward,” McCarthy said. “With that, we’ve been rotating Alex Green, James Starks and now having John Kuhn back, I feel we have a good rotation. It’s just really finding the things they all do well and play to that and have that in sync with the run-blocking unit. I thought the way we started the last game (was encouraging) and I thought Arizona was a good game. If we can just kind of find that rhythm, that definitely would benefit us.”
Green leads the team with 97 attempts for 302 yards and Starks has added 56 attempts for 189 yards. The averages, though, haven’t been good enough. Green is averaging a paltry 3.1 per attempt and Starks is at 3.4.
The meager production, of course, doesn’t all fall on the backs. In 11 games, the Packers have averaged better than 4.0 yards per attempt just four times: 4.1 against New Orleans in Week 4, 6.21 against Indianapolis in Week 5, 4.51 against Arizona in Week 9 and 4.46 against New York last week.
“At times, a back might miss a hole. At times, a lineman might miss a block,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. “We have to block consistently and the backs have to see the hole consistently. We have to be better at falling forward and getting the linemen pushing the pile, so instead of a 3-yard gain, it’s a 4- or 5-yard gain. It’s a combination. Everyone has to do their job.”
At least the Packers have had time to adjust, and the hope is the team can find something resembling consistency as the stretch run starts on Sunday against Minnesota.
“If you don’t have a good player, it’s a loss, but we’ve been playing without him for a long time now,” Clements said. “It’s unfortunate. I’m sure he’s upset. It would have been nice to have him back but he’s not coming back, so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
While Benson’s production was underwhelming, position coach Alex Van Pelt and the backs frequently said Benson served as a leader and mentor.
“He’s meant a lot to me,” Green said. “He’s a great person on and off the field. He definitely taught me a lot about reading defenses and being a disciplined runner and how to make reads quicker and pre-snap reads. He’s definitely helped me out a lot and, moving forward, he’s going to continue helping me out, whether he’s here or not, because that’s the kind of guy he is.”
Packers injury report
Out: CB Sam Shields (ankle); DB Charles Woodson (collarbone). Did not participate: WR Donald Driver (thumb); LB Clay Matthews (hamstring); TE Andrew Quarless (knee); RB Johnny White (concussion); DE C.J. Wilson (knee). Limited: LB Terrell Manning (shoulder); T Marshall Newhouse (wrist); DT Ryan Pickett (quad); S Sean Richardson (back). Full: S M.D. Jennings (rib); WR Greg Jennings (groin/abdomen).
Pickett returned after missing Wednesday and M.D. Jennings went from limited to full, while Quarless was downgraded and Richardson was added.
Vikings injury report
Did not participate: WR Percy Harvin (ankle). Limited: LB Jasper Brinkley (shoulder); T Phil Loadholt (knee); TE Kyle Rudolph (concussion/shoulder); S Harrison Smith (concussion); CB Antoine Winfield (knee). Full: DE Jared Allen (shoulder/back); DT Letroy Guion (foot); P Chris Kluwe (left knee); RB Adrian Peterson (shoulder).
“We held Percy back,” coach Leslie Frazier told reporters in Eden Prairie after practice. “He got a little work [Wednesday], so we will see where he is [Friday]. But the fact that we were out here on the grass, we just wanted to give it another chance see where he is and then we will try him out [Friday] if we can.”
— Receivers coach Edgar Bennett had little to say when asked about Greg Jennings. “He looks good. He looks good. I don’t want to help our opponent. He looks good. He’s ready to play.”
— Dave Robinson and Herb Adderley will meet fans and sign copies of their book, “Lombardi’s Left Side,” on Friday from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Festival Foods on West Mason Street and from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Redwood Inn. On Saturday, they’ll be at the Packers Pro Shop from 12:30-2 p.m. and the Barnes & Noble on Oneida Street from 7-8:30 p.m. On Sunday, they’ll be on the Club Level at Lambeau Field from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
— Fans attending Sunday’s game are encouraged to bring toys or cash donations for a Toys for Tots collection. Marines will be stationed throughout the parking lots to collect donations prior to gate openings and will be at the gates starting at 10 a.m.
— The Packers are listed seventh in Bovada.lv’s Super Bowl odds. Houston and New England are 9/2, San Francisco is 5/1, Denver is 11/2, Atlanta is 17/2, the Giants are 9/1 and Green Bay is 10/1. The Packers were 15/2 last week.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.